Cortland Finnegan was speaking then not about his second consecutive fine -- second straight! -- from the NFL this season for overly aggressive play that was hazardous to his opponent. That punishment was for $5,000 for tackling Giants receiver Steve Smith by the helmet in Week 3. It followed a $5,000 fine from the season's second weekend for baiting Steelers receiver Hines Ward into a fight.
To prove his open disdain for league authority even further, Finnegan followed his shenanigans against the Giants by sneaking in a punch against Broncos offensive lineman Chris Kuper, according to eyewitness Kyle Orton, Denver's quarterback. The league reviewed videotape of the allegation and doubled its earlier fines for Finnegan. It docked him $10,000.
"I was just being me," Finnegan said.
Watch: Players Exchange Punches in Texans' Win
Photos: Andre Johnson vs. Cortland Finnegan
I didn't think there was a place in the NFL for what we long called goons in pro hockey. I thought of the NFL as an evolutionary sport -- corralling its violence over the years by instituting a line of scrimmage, the forward pass -- offered no quarter to such miscreants, but Finnegan has proven me mistaken.
To be sure, the league on Monday fined Finnegan again, $25,000, for the helmet's-off NHL-like fight he initiated Sunday against Houston receiver Andre Johnson, which resulted in ejections for both players. Johnson was fined the same, but neither man was penalized enough.
"He snapped and started throwing blows," Finnegan said of Johnson on Finnegan's weekly radio show Monday. "You do that and you're suspended, hands down."
It is an uncomfortable feeling to agree with a recidivist rule-breaker like Finnegan, but I do. The only thing he should've added to his assessment was himself.
Finnegan should've been suspended for not having learned his lesson. Johnson should've been given a one-game dismissal for turning into Manny Pacquiao during a football game. How league commissioner Roger Goodell, who has made his name by being a disciplinarian since taking over the league, allowed this decision is mind-boggling.
After all, one of the remarkable things about football players is their ability to restrain from seeking an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth as often as the physicality of their game appears to inspire. They collide. They slam one another to the ground. They exalt. And for the most part, they walk back to their side and prepare to do it again without malice. When it's all over, they shake hands, move on and look forward to doing so another day against like-minded peers. The outward talk of retaliation or expectation of it beyond the scoreboard isn't as prominent as in hockey or even baseball.
If the NFL tacitly sanctions fisticuffs -- which it did by letting Finnegan's season, especially, continue without interruption -- fights will happen again and with more frequency. The game will be marred as hockey is due to its continued and unnecessary embrace of its pugilistic past.
It doesn't matter that Johnson profusely apologized afterward to back up his reputation as one of the league's good guys, either. The league should've gone by its book.
A league spokesman reminded me Monday of the possible outcomes for what Finnegan and Johnson engaged in. The league's "Policies for Players" states that a first offense for fighting can result in a $10,000 fine, a second offense for fighting can result in a $25,000 fine but, depending on the circumstances of the particular bout, any fight can result in higher fines, a suspension and even banishment. What happened Sunday demanded particular consideration.
The league last week, after all, docked Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour $25,000 for striking Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the face after a play was over. That was one shot to the face. Johnson landed several shots on Finnegan after Finnegan jammed him in the facemask with his hands. Both incidents were bad. The one involving Finnegan and Johnson was worse.
"He kept doing little things and I told him: 'Just because you're frustrated, you need to stop what you're doing,'" Johnson told the media Sunday night. "I guess he thought it was funny."
Finnegan came into the game with an ugly reputation. He did to Johnson what he'd done to every receiver he'd faced this season. Ward responded and so did Johnson. Most receivers, obviously, ignored Finnegan and walked away. That's why Johnson, specifically, shouldn't get a pass.
"I don't know why there would be (any punishment on Johnson)," Johnson's boss, Texans owner Bob McNair, told the Associated Press on Sunday. "The DB (Finnegan) was all over him, and he's the one that initiated it, and he'd been doing it the play before and all game. So he just went a little too far, and Andre's the one that was on camera when the action heated up. That's not Andre, but sometimes enough is enough, I guess."
Of course, you can't trust the owner of a team which plays next on Thursday night and is fighting for its playoff life. He doesn't want to lose his best receiver, maybe the best in the league, for a pivotal game.
But McNair should understand that what happened between his superstar and Tennessee's wannabe one could be worse for the league than the loss of Johnson for a game could be to his club. It's about image, something so many seem desirous of making look its absolute worse when it comes to the NFL.
Some NFL players have been the league's worst enemy when it comes to how the league is viewed. Roethlisberger. The old Michael Vick. The defensive back formerly known as "Pacman" Jones. Matt Jones, speaking of the Joneses.
Their problems spilled onto the field from off of it. There was nothing the league could do but respond, and when it did so, it was with the idea of eliminating damaging behavior.
What Finnegan and Johnson did, however, was within the game. The NFL should've responded in a punitive manner with an eye on it being proactive.
"This is not hockey; this is the NFL," Finnegan said on his show Monday, sounding like the rational man he doesn't appear to be on the field. "It's crazy to me to see people condoning this like I got what I deserved."
That's what I'd call a perverted voice of reason.